Shift in focus from energy to climate management key for UK businesses targeting net zero on carbon


Focusing solely on energy use when it comes to action on climate change is leading to businesses failing to react properly, the UK head of one of the world’s largest certification bodies has said.

While many businesses have made some steps to improve efficiency with LED lighting, heating or improved insulation, a significant proportion believe simply choosing renewables can solve the problem with climate change entirely, meaning the bigger picture on carbon dioxide is often missed.

According to Fabienne Bonin-Bree of West Midlands-headquartered AFNOR UK, a subsidiary of the French standardisation operator AFNOR Group, companies often believe they can meet their responsibilities exclusively within the boundaries of their own workplaces, when their sphere of influence stretches far wider.

By using the correct tools and strategies as outlined in a new white paper, the full scale of the carbon dioxide a company has control over, which includes commuting, business travel and the full life cycle of products, can become known and therefore addressed.

While UK firms have the ability and resources to make the necessary changes to move towards net zero, Fabienne says that few have taken the steps required, often because they put too great an emphasis on energy management.

Fabienne said:

“UK firms have the ability and resources to make the necessary changes, but the focus on contributions to climate change rather than energy is vital.

“Without this shift, it is easy to believe increasing the use of renewables can solve the CO2 problem, which is not true.

“Putting action on climate change at the centre produces a much more holistic and tangible approach for those looking to face up to their responsibilities.

“In my experience, businesses in the UK have the curiosity, the flexibility and the mindset to ready themselves for a net zero future, if they can adopt the right solutions to equip themselves and get ahead in a complex and changing environment.”

The white paper setting out strategies to accomplish this, titled Moving from Energy Management to Climate Management, has been produced by GUTcert, a sister company of AFNOR UK, and one of a number in the AFNOR family that shares innovations and best practice across borders.

The paper states that the largest category of emissions outside of energy usage and direct business effects can often make up more than 70 per cent of a business’ total.

Inquiries to GUTcert on the ISO 14064 certification, which ensures a business can take a full picture of its emissions, have skyrocketed, with far more this year compared with the whole of 2020, and 400 per cent more than in 2019.

However, very few in the UK are on the same journey, with the looming possibility that some companies may begin to lose out as their clients look to work with others with greater environmental awareness.

UK Government is already consulting on how energy companies can market “green” tariffs, and other sectors could soon follow.

Fabienne continued:

“The UK Government’s Climate Change Committee says that there is a widening gap between the level of risk the country is facing, and the level of adaptation on the way.

“In other words, there is still not enough interest in climate management.

“Our auditors have reported an increased interest in parts of this, such as carbon targets, which are part of the puzzle.

“But to truly tackle emissions, companies must look to understand the size of the problem by ensuring they are reliably measuring the scale of their emissions with certified tools and processes, such as those detailed in ISO 14064.

“Adaption is not easy, but it is necessary. We are looking to play our part by offering new training courses, and this white paper can help by acting as a stepping stone towards closing the gap between what is being done and what is needed.

“As much as we would want it to be, nobody expects this to be an overnight transformation. It’s a journey that will take time, but without knowing where you are, it’s impossible to begin.”

To read the white paper, click here